Plea for highway probe

By RACHEL SCOLLAY

COOPERS Shoot resident Jack Harper is calling for a Parliamentary inquiry into the RTA's handling of the Tintenbar to Ewingsdale Pacific Highway upgrade.

Mr Harper said there was now a drive amongst 'old' and 'new' landowners to unify and fight.

"I think the RTA deliberately seized on the opportunity to create conflict between east and west to get the monkey off their back," he said.

"And while people are fighting amongst each other they can get on with what they want to do."

Greens MLC Ian Cohen has joined the campaign, questioning the need for a six-lane highway at all. He said the issue was intrinsically linked to rail and the New England Highway, which was the official national route.

The RTA announced an original study area for the Pacific Highway upgrade in October, and has cited the need for six lanes in the future as a key factor in determining the route.

After feedback from the community it doubled the study area by pushing out east towards the coast, in a move that threatened to pit 'new' against 'old'.

"A lot of times these inquiries happen after the horse has already bolted," Mr Cohen.

"Here we're in the early stages, and it's not already a fait accompli.

"Someone has got out of bed on the wrong side and had a moment's insanity to expand that road corridor to what is practically the coast road.

"Hasn't anyone heard of the Midgen Flat fogs? This is the stupidity of decisions made at high bureaucratic levels, looking at lines on maps rather than conditions on the ground.

"I think an inquiry is a good way to keep the issue properly investigated and ventilated."

June Zentveld, from the Newrybar Landcare Group, who is a property-owner in the original study area, said the study area should be enlarged in all directions because she couldn't fathom putting a six-lane highway through some of the best agricultural land in the country.

"Naturally we said, 'Hey, what about looking outside of this'," she said.

"Everyone is saying 'Not in my backyard'. But we all lose. Everyone who lives in this area. Nobody gains ex- cept the through trucks."



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